Introduction: In December 2015, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists published a comprehensive set of mood disorder clinical practice guidelines for psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health professionals. This guideline summary, directed broadly at primary care physicians, is an abridged version that focuses on major depression. It emphasises the importance of shared decision making, tailoring personalised care to the individual, and delivering care in the context of a therapeutic relationship. In practice, the management of depression is determined by a multitude of factors, including illness severity and putative aetiology, with the principal objectives of regaining premorbid functioning and improving resilience against recurrence of future episodes.
Main recommendations: The guidelines emphasise a biopsychosocial lifestyle approach and provide the following specific clinical recommendations:
- Alongside or before prescribing any form of treatment, consideration should be given to the implementation of strategies to manage stress, ensure appropriate sleep hygiene and enable uptake of healthy lifestyle changes.
- For mild to moderate depression, psychological management alone is an appropriate first line treatment, especially early in the course of illness.
- For moderate to severe depression, pharmacological management is usually necessary and is recommended first line, ideally in conjunction with psychosocial interventions.
Changes in management as a result of the guidelines: The management of depression is anchored within a therapeutic relationship that attends to biopsychosocial lifestyle aspects and psychiatric diagnosis. The guidelines promote a broader approach to the formulation and management of depression, with treatments tailored to depressive subtypes and administered with clear steps in mind. Lifestyle and psychological therapies are favoured for less severe presentations, and concurrent antidepressant prescription is reserved for more severe and otherwise treatment-refractory cases.
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